Daily Devotion for September 25, 2010
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
How Can I Fear with Jesus is a pretty hymn song, performed here in the style of the Anabaptists: a capella in six-part harmony.
For the Presence of God
O God, be present with me always, dwell within my heart. With thy light and thy Spirit guide my soul, my thoughts, and all my actions, that I may teach thy Word, that thy healing power may be in me and in all the saints of thy church universal.
Father, so many divisions and disputes have been generated by issues, practices and traditions that are not part of the fundamentals of the faith. Your Church is a glorious unity in diversity, but when we major on the minors, the spirit of factionalism replaces that of unity and peace. I ask for the boldness and courage to stand up and contend for the essentials of the faith, even if it means a lack of peace.
I do not want to compromise the truth of the gospel for the sake of peace. But I also ask for the graciousness to demonstrate kindness and tolerance for believers who disagree with me about the non-essentials. I acknowledge that there are some things that are not clear enough in Your revelation for us to understand fully, but these are not the clearly revealed core issues of the faith. In all things, may I be loving and gracious to others.
And finally, grant me O Lord, I pray, the lamp of charity which never fails, that it may burn in me and shed its light on those around me, and that by its brightness I may share a vision of that holy City, where dwells the true and never-failing Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
Where does Jesus tell us that those who are not against us are for us?
Proverbs 13:4 (NKJV)
The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.
Romans 6:20-23 (ESV)
The Wages of Sin
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notes on the Scripture
e discussed Paul’s use of the “slave” imagery previously, but it bears repeating. Quotes about Christians being “slaves of God” are sometimes cited out of context, without Paul’s caveat that his slavery metaphor is not to be taken literally. In ancient Rome, slavery was widespread, often voluntary, and without the baleful overtones it has in the modern world. Many of Paul’s Roman audience would have been slaves. Paul, in fact, speaks of wages, something we associate with employment, not slavery.
As he says, he uses it to try to find a human relationship that might make his words more understandable, but the metaphor does not work as well in the modern world—where we think of the antebellum south when we hear the word—as in the ancient. We are never God’s slaves, in the sense of coerced laborers, for we serve Him willingly. Neither the God of the Old Testament, nor Christ, nor Paul seeks to rob us of our humanity. Christ simply gave us a free ticket home; he put a pair of ruby slippers on our feet, and all He asks us to do is to believe. We don’t even need to click our heels together.
But we do need to make a change, and that change is not to give ourselves into slavery. It is more like quitting a job, when we discover that our wages are illusory in value and will result in death, and getting a new one where the wages are goodness and life. Even better, our new boss loves us. As long as we show up, he will never fire us or punish us. His forgiveness of error is limitless, as long as we believe.
Paul asks us, “what fruit were you getting?” If you have sex with your neighbor’s spouse, where does it get you? What is a billion dollars earned by sin worth to a dead man? If you spend your time in covetous rapture over a shiny new Mercedes, what does it profit you? It is a four-wheeled trap, to keep your mind occupied by an illusion of greatness, while the truth goes unseen; it is like a shiny fishing lure that a brainless fish mistakes for real food.
There is nothing to say we shouldn’t enjoy the pleasures of life, but we cannot let them fool us. If they become more important to us than goodness and truth, we will forsake what we know to be right and be willing to sin to get them. We will one day be ashamed of them. Our only pride in our past is to say that we loved God and tried to do his will, for the wages of faith are eternal and life-giving.